Iowa arborist picked as Oak Creek’s new clerk, administrator
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After a three-month search, Oak Creek officials selected an Iowa arborist with experience in public administration as its new town clerk and administrator.
Chris Johnson, a former forestry manager with a masters in public administration, was chosen among a pool of three finalists, according to a news release from the town of Oak Creek announcing the decision Tuesday.
“I am just beyond delighted and over the moon about this opportunity,” Johnson said.
While it was too early for him to offer specific details about his goals as Oak Creek’s clerk and administrator, he listed more affordable housing as a top priority. He looks forward to speaking further with residents about the needs and changes they want to see in the community.
Ali Moore, Oak Creek’s deputy clerk, has been part of the hiring process. She said officials chose Johnson due to his enthusiasm as well as his expertise.
Moore admitted Johnson was the town’s second pick for the position. Finalist Russ Powers, the city administrator, clerk and treasurer for Electric City, Washington, a town of about 1,000, just four miles from the Grand Coulee Dam, declined Oak Creek’s offer, citing a lack of affordable housing in the area, Moore said. He chose to take another job closer to his hometown.
Johnson acknowledged that more needs to be done to address the local housing issue. He recounted experience he gained in Iowa cleaning up vacant or abandoned buildings for future developments and improving housing ordinances. With that experience under his belt, he hopes to be able to work with developers to expand housing in Oak Creek and amend or draft town ordinances to support such development.
Johnson visited Oak Creek on Dec. 9 for a meet-and-greet with residents. An avid outdoorsman who enjoys cycling, snowboarding and hockey, among other activities, he found the area a perfect fit.
“I saw myself as the type of person they are trying to attract to the town,” Johnson said.
He plans to move in January with his girlfriend Andrea Moore, their dog and two cats. Johnson expects to start his new job Jan. 21, 2020.
He will replace Mary Alice Page-Allen, who left her position in October to become Hayden’s planning and economic development director. The town’s first attempt to hire her replacement failed after its initial top picks declined to take the job in October, according to Oak Creek Mayor Nikki Knoebel.
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